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SPIE Professional April 2012

SPIE Britton Chance Award goes to Robert Alfano


Robert Alfano, Distinguished Professor of Physics at City College of New York (USA), has been awarded the first SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Awardin recognition of his pioneering work in biomedical optics and ultrafast laser spectroscopy.

I am elated," says Alfano. "It shows that people believe what we're doing will help people."

"Both Britt (Britton Chance) and Bob were original pioneers of our field and their work has had an extraordinary impact. Bob has helped accelerate the growth of biomedical optics and biophotonics ... much like Professor Chance, through his passion to develop new optical instruments," says Bruce Tromberg, chair of SPIE's award subcommittee.

Alfano's work essentially uses the color of light emitted and scattered from cells and tissues in place of surgical biopsies and other conventional diagnostic techniques. The non-invasive "optical biopsy" method gives molecular information on the spot. His techniques can eliminate the wait for test results and reduce the physical trauma of surgery, since there is no need to remove tissue unless cancer is found.

A co-discoverer of the supercontinuum white light source, Alfano is a longtime SPIE conference chair and committee member and was instrumental in the founding of the Biomedical Optics(BiOS) symposium at SPIE Photonics West. He has published more than 700 papers, and has 108 patents and more than 11,000 citations.

He has also served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biomedical Optics since the founding of the SPIE journal in 1996.

His most recent achievement was the approval of a patent for a pill-sized cancer detection device. He doesn't plan to stop there.

"Someday," Alfano muses, "I want to have a cell phone to diagnose cancer."


Have a question or comment about this article? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org.


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DOI: 10.1117/2.4201204.18

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